After six days of harrowing househunting, I've finally found a place to live!
Being the first intern at the SEJP, I didn't really have too many people to ask about temporary living arrangements. I browsed around on the Internet in the States before I arrived, and I saw furnished apartments for rent, some at really great prices. I figured I would probably be fine. Last year in Argentina I rented an apartment from a guy who maintained a few different furnished apartments in Cordoba aimed at people and families who came to visit the city for short periods of time and wanted more homely living arrangements. I thought I could find the same here.
I started off by visiting Nelly's apartment on Sunday, which I wrote about in an earlier blog. She offered a great deal, but my parents advised me to scope around some more and check out my options before committing.
On Tuesday my friend Juan Diego drove me to the part of Quito where he lives, called Quito Tenis, and showed me a three-bedroom apartment that his family rents out. He wanted to show me an option for a area in which to live - even though Quito Tenis is farther from the office, it is very safe and very residential. There just wasn't a lot of offerings there for me. We then checked out the digs from one site - Quito Rental dot com. They look nice, right? NOT! The website is a complete TOURIST TRAP. I saw the one-bedroom they were offering for $400 a month. The bedroom was the size of the bed, the shower had no curtain and the bathroom had one cinderblock wall, there was definitely not a fireplace, and the sink faucet was plastic, to give you an idea. Plus, it was in a neighborhood far from my office that the girls at work called "Bohemian." It seems that in Ecuador "Bohemian" is a euphemism for "crappy place with a nice view." There were construction sites with rubble and abandoned houses, winding cobbled roads and nonexistent sidewalks. I was hoping that housing might work the way of consumer goods where things are just much cheaper here (I can buy full take-out lunches for $3.35) but at this point I realized that in Quito real estate I'm gonna get what I pay for.
Wednesday Juan Diego and I called a bunch of agents that had advertised apartments on the Internet, but most of them were looking for someone who would rent for at least six months. The other problem for renting for two months is cutting on services like water, cable, and Internet for such a short period. We found one owner that was willing to rent for two months but at the price of $1000 a month...it was at about this time that I figured out the apartment rental market was not going to have much to offer for me.
I couldn't go looking for a place to live forever while racking up hotel bills, so I decided to move in with Nelly on Thursday. The rent for two months leaves me with lots of money to travel about, she cooks my meals for me, and I have my own bedroom and bathroom. She and her family have also proven to be good companionship at a time when I don't have too many friends or contacts here in Quito yet. When I studied abroad in Cambridge in undergrad we all lived in college dorms, and last year in Argentina I lived alone. Sharing an apartment with a local resident and having the family experience abroad is one I haven't really had yet, so I am thankful for the different experience.
I've gotten up to some neat stuff this weekend, but I'll tell you about that stuff in a later blog. Time for bed now!
I'll leave you with some pictures of the new apartment:
The dining room
The living room: